Tag Archives: art

Life and Art in Lockdown

Domesticity and Dusters

Early on in lockdown Vanessa Marr invited me to contribute to the new lockdown version of her wonderful Women and Domesticity project.  You stitch your thoughts about both on to a classic yellow duster.  Lockdown has had such a huge effect on our habits and lifestyle (if style’s the word).  We’ve faced the sort of fear and uncertainty our ancestors took for granted.  We’ve had to adapt and improvise around work, family and other obligations.  But the underlying ‘domestic’ issues remain, often exacerbated by enforced proximity.  

A tea and coffee disaster

But there are smaller issues too. I had a disaster early on, when the shops were running out of basic foodstuffs. I poured a lovely new pack of tea-leaves straight into…the coffee canister.  It wasn’t our usual brand – the pack looked just like the standard shiny coffee bags.  I was in a rush. (I know, excuses….)

What have I created??

Tee? Or Coffea?

Well, our total tea AND coffee supplies down the drain!  Except…I couldn’t just throw it away.  I remembered the duster.  I experimented by pouring some of the tea/coffee mixture on to it, followed by boiling water.  And, what did it look like when it dried?  That day’s Guardian pic of the Coronavirus!  Result:  further experiments on cotton and on handmade paper.  This one, World in Lockdown, uses my paper, bits of reclaimed wood and…tea and coffee.   A much bigger one is in progress.

World in Lockdown

Black Lives Matter

Instagram has been, to my surprise, a source of inspiration and pleasure.   It has brought new friends and reinforced old friendships.  That’s how I see Geraldine Guest’s beautiful gardens (both in southern Spain and in England) and plants, and curated art posts.  Jane Porter, writer and illustrator, kindly sent me her beautiful linoprint poster Black Lives Matter, to display in my already crowded window. An honour to do so.

Black Lives Matter

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

And Jane’s children’s book The Boy Who Loved Everyone has just been shortlisted for the @littlerebelsaward  – celebrating ‘books which challenge stereotypes, promote social justice and advocate for a more peaceful world’.  Her new non-fiction book So you Want To Be An Owl will very soon be out.  And her you-tube channel LINK is full of delightful things to make with your family.  Armadillo? Elephant? Surprise box, anyone?

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

Magic Bubbles

Bubbles are NOW.  We’re all in our bubbles.  My friend Carolyn had the inspired idea of giving her friends a kit for making those mammoth bubbles for her (her) birthday.  We had huge fun. Our young neighbour Louise helped. It’s surprisingly poignant – they’re so beautiful, so fragile – and so transient. You gasp as they grow and grow, you wait anxiously for them to pop – and they’re gone.

Bubbles in our Lane

The Schoolhouse Gallery in York has had the brilliant idea of inviting artists to submit images (in whatever form) of their ideas of home.   It’s an Arts Council project, funded by the National Lottery.  I contributed some of the bubble pics – do have a look at this growing collection and maybe contribute to it.  It’s a touching and intimate record of these extraordinary times. LINK

Artists’ Support Pledge

Artists’ Support Pledge

Recently, artist  Matthew Burrows devised a remarkably successful initiative to help artists through these difficult times: the #artistsupportpledge. Because of COVID, artists have found it hard to continue work and to sell their art. Matthew’s idea: You post images of your work to sell for no more than £200 each (not including shipping.) Anyone can then buy the work. Every time you reach £1000 of sales you pledge to buy another artist/s work for £200.  Everyone wins.  It’s worked for me (thank you, dear buyers). I’m just about to receive a wonderful piece by Annamarie Dzendrowskj! Why not have a look round and see if there’s something you fancy on offer from one of your favourite artists?

Art in the Window (sold!)

Open Windows

Another delightful thing has been Openwindows2020, which began in Brighton.  Artists have been displaying artwork in their own windows, giving passers-by something colourful and interesting to look at. Originally in lieu of the cancelled Artists’ Open House/Open Studios, it has spread throughout the country; our local version is OpenwindowsYork2020.  It’s a bit of a challenge to change the display regularly; my neighbour Julia keeps me up to the mark!

The Wolf and the Window

Art on the Underground

A big excitement: another of my paintings is now on display in poster form on the London Underground, as part of Art Below’s summer show, curated by Ben Moore.  Here’s a pic – so sad I won’t see the original. (I have an auto-immune problem so have to play safe.)

Seaside Past – on the Underground

When were you last on a train?

It’s at Hyde Park Corner, just suppose you’re passing through. If not, we’ll all have to make do with the pics. How long is it since I was on a train? I can’t even remember!

Evening, Haven: handmade paper, pigments, gold/siver leaf

Strange Times

As part of the same show, a new painting of Cuckmere Haven in Sussex (with those threatened iconic curves) is on display – and sale – from today at the Ad-Lib Gallery LINK in Fulham. Every Day’s a Miracle – a pretty good title for the times. The pictures of the Private View looked amazing. (Sigh.)

Every Day’s a Miracle – exhibition now on

Kielder to London

The last painting that appeared in this way (at Regent’s Park Station) is in the process of being sold.  The marvels of online art sales! A big thank you to the Nicholas Bowlby Gallery which showed it at the Affordable Art Fair.  A complicated procedure of liberating it from the wonderful but remote Kielder Observatory in the Dark Sky Park in Northumberland. It’s going to London later this week.

Exhibition in Lockdown: Kielder Observatory

It’s been in lockdown at Keilder since it was installed as part of their very first art exhibition. So many thanks to Natasha who organised the show – which sadly has never seen the light of either day or night.

Night Sky 1066

Night Sky 1066 at the Affordable Art Fair

the noes and yesses of lockdown life:
NO… hardly seeing family and friends. Difficulty with sitting down to read a book; with making large confident paintings; with making big decisions.  Cabin fever.  Zero visits to seaside and country.  The health of our car (lockdown heaven for pigeons).

The birds are enjoying life

Involuntary Art (otherwise, Our Car Windscreen)

YES: Gardening, making sourdough crackers, painting furniture, seizing the moment.  Help between neighbours. Eating like kings with ingenuity and improvisation. And a wonderful birthday recently – first family meet-up for months.  Let’s all hope for better times soon. And I just hope we don’t all end up like this! The cats and dogs are having a mighty fine time though….

And so are the cats and dogs

Life in Lockdown

New Year, new horizons, new opportunities, new shows…

Augsburg Book of Miracles , 1552

Let’s all hope for a good and constructive New Year in the middle of all the political chaos and natural disaster.


Since the clocks went back in October I have seen suffering from (at times) crippling insomnia so a lot is on hold for now.  Exploring, visiting new galleries, getting the feel of the area, all these things will have to wait for longer days (and in my case, nights).  Hibernation….

Anne Bronte 200

Who’s a Bronte fan?  I discovered the Brontes as a rather solitary child in Africa, and read everything on my parents’ bookshelves. The textile artist Lindsey Tyson has organised a superb exhibition to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Anne, the lesser-known sister. Today is Anne’s 200th!

Marriage a la Mode: a murmuration of harsh words: pages 231-2

Anne Bronte p.200. 200 Artists, 200 pages: each artist was allocated  a random page from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall to use/embellish/adapt /illustrate – in whatever way we chose. Above is mine. My page involved an implied discussion of two relationships, and bristled with harsh, hostile and brutal words about the state of marriage. I imagined these swept up into a sort of murmuration which swirled over the cliffs of Scarborough where poor Anne, already author of two powerful novels, died aged only 29.

Anne Bronte 200 exhibition, Woodend, Scarborough, till end February

The resultant pages, each totally different from the others, have also been made into a striking book. The show runs from 11 January-7 February 2020, Scarborough, and there are numerous brilliant events associated with it.

Penguin visits the Pyramid Gallery

The first private view I went to in York last year was at the lovely Pyramid Gallery, on Stonegate, right in the heart of the old town right near the Minster.  As a member of the York Art Workers Association  I’m showing work there from 17 January-23 February 2020.  Begins tomorrow!

Our garden, formerly an allotment belonging to Micklegate Priory

And the following month, my friend and neighbour Julia and I are opening our adjacent gardens on this secret little lane (snickleway), Mount Parade, and displaying a range of sculpture, ceramics and art from some terrific artists. Do put it in your diary: two weekends, 13-14, 20-21 June, Art in the Garden. An attempt to brighten our lives…more details soon.

‘All Good Things’ by Stephen Ellcock

A propos of beautifully-produced books such as Bronte  and Flux Review, let’s not forget the wonderful Book of All Good Things recently published by the fabulous Stephen Ellcock.  It’s sold out and re-printing – Stephen would like you to order from your local independent bookshop. Full of striking, beautiful and often mysterious images from many times and places. It’s receiving extraordinary praise and attention.

Christmas Open Studio day with Robin Grover-Jacques

I nearly cancelled my Open Studio weekend in December, but compromised and opened for a single day. I was joined by Robin Grover-Jacques with his beautiful metalwork. A huge pleasure – and thank you, Julia and Annis, for all your help. Though we didn’t have April-style crowds there was a steady stream of visitors. Neighbours, friends from a distance, passers-by, other artists and people who had seen our publicity. Thank you so much for coming!

Warm welcome. Taken by Julia, Stillingfleet Garden

The people (and animals) of York are so friendly and constructive and have made our move here easy.  Our house and its situation are delightful, but there’s a lot that doesn’t work properly and we need building works on the house soon,   In the meantime, there are a surprising number of art events on my horizon.

From 14 January to  24 February I’m taking part in a joint  exhibition with Lesley  Peatfield (photographer) at the Angel on the Green. It’s on the famous Bishy Rd in York (our local shopping street). Every show I have seen there has been excellent so I’m very pleased to have been asked. Here are the details.  Thank you Jo and Charlotte.

On the Horizon : mixed media on handmade paper

It’s also an honour to have had a piece (above) accepted for the annual Open Exhibition at the Ferens Gallery, Hull.  This painting on handmade paper returned from the much-missed Nigel Rose Gallery, Brighton, via a circuitous route – thank you so much, Judith and Helen!  15 February – 26 April. In April I’m again going to be part of York Open Studios 2020 here at the Wolf at the Door, York:  18-19, 25-26 April 2020.  Last year was smashing – I loved it. 

‘Urban Decay’: five artists, Blossom St Gallery, York (till end Feb)

Other excitements: the very first edition of the exquisitely produced Flux Review is out, and being distributed widely throughout the art and design world by its extraordinary creator, Lisa Gray. I’m honoured to be in there.  The exhibition Positive Emotions also continues at the Kunsthuis Gallery, Crayke, N Yorkshire. And tomorrow a new exhibition opens at the Blossom St Gallery, York. The theme is ‘Urban Decay’; I’m one of five artists.

Art patron

One sad piece of news. Citrus, aged 19 ½, quietly gave up the ghost before Christmas.  My paintings are now safe from her extravagant and often damaging attentions.  Famous at Open House events – she always featured in the Visitors’ Book – she began to flag in Hove and didn’t really adjust to life oop north. Raise a glass to her.

Last seen on the train

Furthermore, we can’t locate Penguin – his second disappearance this year.  He was at the Wedding last June and holidayed in Antibes in September. But where is he now?  Please keep an eye out for him. And raise another glass:  happy New Year to all.  We can only hope for Good Things….

Paintings on show, art fairs, racing, and Christmas treats

art show in York UK

Art& show, York, October

Mea culpa, it’s been a long time since the last blog post.  What with Instagram and my Facebook artist page it’s difficult to keep up, let alone make paintings and show work and do all the other things.  Yes, I know we all have similar problems whatever our line of work!

Painting: Looking from the Cliff

Looking from the Cliff – sold at the Affordable Art Fair

The Affordable Art Fair came and went.  I was thrilled to sell a large piece to someone who’d bought a favourite painting of mine there in 2013 and kindly contacted me through Instagram to let me know.  (There, I knew it was worth doing those updates.)  Also a brand-new Harvest Moon on which the paint was barely dry.

York Art Fair Oct 17

Jill’s work at Art&

I travelled north to the lovely city of York to take part in the Art& Art Fair,  which took place in the large, attractive and well-lit Knavesmire Grandstand of York Racecourse.  (‘Knavesmire’  makes me imagine a muddy medieval apprentice jockey!)  I wrote about the Fair in my Wolf at the Door newsletter – link here.   Last time I visited that racecourse was long long ago when I was seven, wearing my new party dress and a family watch from my grandmother, which fell off and got lost.  Disaster!  I was so lucky – it was found and returned to me  and I still have it.

long greenhouse

Peach House, Allerton

Afterwards we had a quieter few days staying in an air b’n’b on the estate where the Secret Garden was filmed.  (Once seen, never forgotten….)  Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen/diner and…a glass peach house all to ourselves  which must have been 100 feet long. Only half of it shows on the photo!

Artists' Open House on the seafront

Nigel Rose Gallery, Christmas Open House

I’m lucky enough to be part of the Nigel Rose Gallery‘s Christmas Artists’ Open House – which is  a lovely trouble-free way to to do this three-week stint.  A complete rehang; seven of my paintings are there for the next two weekends at least.  The gallery is right on the Brighton/Hove sea-front right opposite the beautiful skeletal West Pier.  You can watch a murmuration of starlings, browse Nigel’s collection of local art plus artefacts from all over the world – loads of affordable Christmas presents.  Next you might try the i-360 for an aerial view of the city,  and finally stop off for a meal at Murmur restaurant next door. If you still have any dosh.

Siobhan's treats

Siobhan’s goodies at the Wolf at the Door

We may not have the stamina for a full Artists’ Open House, but we are going to pop up for the Wolf’s Winter Weekend – make a note for your diary if you’re anywhere near us. 9th-10th December, 11-5, 49 Hove Park Villas (just up from Hove Station). Mention this post and I’ll give you a couple of free cards!  An attempt to add a bit of joy to life in these complicated times – no need to buy anything – you’re welcome just to come and have a look round and a chat.  There will be glorious refreshments (plus edible and culinary gifts) from Siobhan of Table Brighton. And paintings, books, sculpture, jewellery and kinetic art from talented friends and neighbours. As affordable as we can make it.

I have so much to catch up with.  I’ve also recently joined Rise Art, an excellent selective and supportive online selling platform: do check it out  here.     And I’ve  begun the long task of inventorising  all my present and past work on Artwork Archive. This should  make entering work for exhibitions and competitions, preparing catalogues and list of work and making labels a lot easier.

My next significant art date in the New Year will  be in Hampstead at the lovely Burgh House – taking part in an exhibition of seascapes by women painters.  But that’s next year… .